Notes: Rangers ink Jennings to deal

Rangers ink Jennings to deal

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have completed an agreement with pitcher Jason Jennings on a one-year contract. A press conference is set for Thursday at 11 a.m. CT at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Jennings was 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA in 19 games for the Houston Astros in 2007 while missing a total of about three months with a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. His best year was with the Colorado Rockies in 2002, when he was 16-8 with a 4.52 ERA and was the 2002 National League Rookie of the Year.

Jennings is a native of Dallas who pitched at Baylor University before being the Rockies' first pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. He currently lives north of Dallas in Frisco and underwent a physical with the Rangers on Monday.

Jennings joins a starting rotation that also includes Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Brandon McCarthy and Kason Gabbard, filling a spot that was created when the Rangers traded pitcher Edinson Volquez to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Josh Hamilton.

"Hopefully we'll have an announcement tomorrow," general manager Jon Daniels said Wednesday.

Botts to play first base: The Rangers are going to take a look at Jason Botts at first base in Spring Training with the possibility of using him in a platoon with Ben Broussard. Manager Ron Washington spoke with Botts about the possibility on Tuesday.

The Rangers are looking for a platoon partner for Broussard after designating Chris Shelton for assignment earlier this week. Botts is a switch-hitter, while Broussard bats left-handed.

"We had a decision to make with Chris, and we elected to designate him," Daniels said. "Jason is our own guy. The biggest advantage Shelton had was he had more experience in at first base. Jason has the ability but in the past we wanted him to focus on one position, and we asked him to work in the outfield because we had Mark Teixeira here. Jason made pretty good strides out there, and if he can make the same strides at first base, he has a chance to help us."

Botts last played first base regularly in 2004, when he played in 127 games there at Double-A Frisco. He has only played in the outfield at the Major League level. He is currently hitting .326 with nine home runs and 54 RBIs in 64 games and 242 at-bats for Yaquis de Obregon in the Mexican Winter League.

Hot Stove

Byrd signs: The Rangers have reached an agreement with outfielder Marlon Byrd on a one-year contract worth $1.8 million. The deal avoids a potential arbitration hearing.

Catcher Gerald Laird, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, is the only Rangers player left who is eligible for arbitration. The Rangers haven't had an actual arbitration hearing with a player since 2000.

"We'd like to get something done, but every negotiation has its own pace," Daniels said.

Ian Kinsler is not eligible for arbitration, but the Rangers have discussed a multiyear deal with his representatives this winter. Right now they haven't been able to reach an agreement.

"It's something we may revisit later," Daniels said. "Right now, we have been tied up with some other stuff. Between now and the beginning of the season we may revisit it, but there's nothing going on right now."

Briefly: The Rangers have been talking trade with other teams about Shelton, but Daniels admitted there haven't been any bites. ... Pitchers A.J. Murray, Eric Hurley, Doug Mathis and Luis Mendoza are being invited to an informal pitchers' mini-camp next week in Arlington.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.